Kwato Island

Lonely Planet review

China Strait and the surrounding islands have a reputation for witchcraft and, despite the influence of missionaries, superstitions linger. Strange lights, ghost ships and sirens (the singing kind) all crop up. Just 3km west of Samarai, Kwato Island was once an educational centre and home to a thriving boat building industry. The remnants of the old machinery lie where they were discarded in the tall grass and today the island can be eerily quiet.

The Reverend Charles Abel and his wife, Beatrice, founded a non-hierarchical church in 1891. Even though they 'belted' the Bible pretty hard, it wasn't until the 1930s that the last of the nearby cannibal tribes was 'saved'.

If you follow the old tree-lined road until it clears the forest, you'll come to a stonewalled church that was built in 1937 from materials brought from Scotland. The Kwato Church suffered a decline in the 1970s and stands today as a testimony to the missionary of a bygone era.

Boats to Kwato can be caught from Samarai Island Wharf.